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1. Inside the Brain: Hacks 1–12 > 2. Electroencephalogram: Getting the Big Pict...

Electroencephalogram: Getting the Big Picture with EEGs

EEGs give you an overall picture of the timing of brain activity but without any fine detail.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) produces a map of the electrical activity on the surface of the brain. Fortunately, the surface is often what we’re interested in, as the cortex—responsible for our complex, high-level functions—is a thin sheet of cells on the brain’s outer layer. Broadly, different areas contribute to different abilities, so one particular area might be associated with grammar, another with motion detection. Neurons send signals to one another using electrical impulses, so we can get a good measure of the activity of the neurons (how busy they are doing the work of processing) by measuring the electromagnetic field nearby. Electrodes outside the skull on the surface of the skin are clo....


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